Friday, January 31, 2014

Foodie Pen Pals: January 2014


Foodie Pen Pals is a fun program ran by Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean.  It's exactly what it sounds like - pen pals for foodies!  Only, instead of sending just letters in the mail, you also send food!   Each month you are paired with someone new and you send each other a box of your favourite goodies valued at around $15 or so.   I absolutely love this program and have been participating for a couple of years now.  It's really exciting to get mail, especially mail filled with yummy food products you get to sample! 


This month I had the pleasure of being paired up with Ceecee from Within The Kitchen.  We were first paired up with each other back in October 2013, and and I was pleasantly surprised to be paired with her again!  I absolutely loved the last package she sent me so I was eagerly anticipating her package this month - needless to say she did not disappoint!  The package was filled to the brim with goodness, all products I can't wait to try! Thanks again Ceecee for putting together such a thoughtful, amazing package!  





















You can find more info about Foodie Pen Pals HERE.  There is a lack of Canadian participants right now so please sign up if this interests you!  You don't have to be a blogger to sign up - as long as you have a US or Canadian address, and a love for discovering new things, you're set! 

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Homemade Juice - Orange/Carrot/Apple/Ginger


This week one of my high school teachers posted on my Facebook wall that she had a brand new juicer that she was looking to give away, and would I be interested?  Ever since I tried the Suja Juice Cleanse I've been hooked on juicing and have had my eye out for a juicer ever since.  After purchasing far too many pre-made fresh pressed juices I was ecstatic to finally be able to make my own - thanks again Mrs. Bird - you rock!!

One of my favourite juices has always been the combination of carrot and orange - more orange than carrot if I had it my way, and more carrot than orange if Marc had it his way!  The juice below is a good combination of both of our favourites, with a couple of tart apples and spicy ginger thrown into the mix for an extra boost of flavour!  This juice is the perfect juice to wake up to that will ignite not only your taste buds, but also to give you a ton of energy for the rest of the day!  If you're cleansing, I would recommend this as your first or second juice of the morning.  
Recipe makes 4 - 1 cup servings

Ingredients
- 2 lb bag of carrots
- 2 Oranges
- 2 Apples
- 1 tsp fresh ginger
- 1/4 tsp turmeric 
Directions

Wash fruits & veggies and remove ends of carrots, orange peels, apple cores, and peel the ginger. 
Add all ingredients to your juicer - reserve the pulp for another use, such as muffins (recipe coming soon!). 
Juice can be refrigerated for up to a week, but will contain the most nutrients if consumed immediately. 
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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Homemade Tuna Casserole + Ocean's Tuna Giveaway!


When I first moved out on my own I was dirt poor.  I'm talking ramen noodles for lunch and the leftover broth for dinner kind of poor.  I literally couldn't even afford a .29 cent meal.  Coupled with the fact that I really had no idea how to cook, I often splurged on pre-made meals like the knock off brands of "Tuna Helper" (that's right guys I couldn't even afford real Tuna Helper). I felt like it was the cheapest bang for my buck, and produced enough food for at least 4 meals!  Shortly after I learned how to cook, (and got a job that paid more than $5/hour) I decided to try and make my own homemade version with more wholesome ingredients.  In all honestly, I think this homemade version is probably cheaper than the boxed version - and more than likely you already have all of the ingredients at home.   This is one of my favourite quick and easy weekday meals and the price sure can't be beat!

Today's post is sponsored by Ocean's Tuna, though all opinions are completely my own! They provided me with the ingredients used to make this recipe as well as the giveaway at the end of this post. 

 Ocean Brand has always been my favourite brand of canned fish.  They offer a quality and price that just can't be beat!  I was happy when I heard about their Pole & Line tuna's which are fished eco-friendly and humane - less untargeted fish are caught (including dolphins, sea turtles, and sharks) which is really important to me.  The tuna's taste great and go perfect in recipes like this one for tuna casserole.  You can pick up these tuna's in your local grocery store (I like to stock up at Costco) or enter to win a case of assorted tuna at the bottom of this post!

Ingredients
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2-3 tbsp flour
- 3 cups milk
- pepper, to taste
- 1-2 cans of Ocean's Pole & Line Tuna
- 3/4 cup frozen peas
- 170g (about 1/2 a bag) egg noodles

Topping (optional)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup panko (coarse bread crumbs)
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare your noodles as per the package directions and set aside in a medium casserole dish.

Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat, then add flour until it forms a loose paste.  Cook the flour for 1-2 minutes.   Slowly whisk in milk 1 cup at a time until sauce thickens.   Add salt & pepper to taste.

Pour sauce over egg noodles, stirring well to combine - then add tuna and frozen peas.

Melt remaining tbsp of butter in a small dish and add bread crumbs.  Sprinkle bread crumbs and shredded cheese over casserole.

Bake in pre-heated oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the topping has turned golden brown.

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OCEAN'S POLE & LINE TUNA FISH

Ocean's is the first national tuna brand introducing a Pole & Line caught product in Canada.  Their fish is caught using an eco friendly and responsible way of fishing tuna.  Less un-targeted fish and juvenile fish are caught using this method. 

WHAT IS POLE & LINE? 

Pole & Line is a simple and eco-friendly method of tuna fishing using a hook attached to a pole.  it is rated by many conservation groups as the most environmentally friendly method of fishing tuna, as it eliminates "by catch" of other marine life including sea turtles and sharks. 

POINT OF ORIGIN 
Ocean's Pole & Line tuna is caught in the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.  The pole & line fishery yields positive socio-economic benefits for the Maldives including job creation as well as the development of a sustainable export industry. 

THE CATCH PROCESS
- Local fishermen carry live bait to attract schools of tuna to the boat.  
- Schools of tuna are found by spotting sea surface disturbance. 
- Chumming of live bait causes the tuna to surface around the boat to feed. 
- Fisherman proceed to catch the tuna with hook & lines and haul the fish onto the boat. 
- The tuna is then chilled on-board using ice for preservation. 
Ocean's Tuna has graciously offered to send one lucky reader an assortment package of their Pole & Line and FAD Free tuna's (a $40 value).   Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.  

Good Luck! 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Cauliflower Crust Pizza


If you've been following along on my Facebook page you'll know that I've been trying to eat healthier lately.  I am usually a fairly healthy eater, but I do have a weakness for carbs (must be my half Italian genes!).  I've been doing really well so far (12.5 pounds lost, wahoo!) but yesterday I had an incredibly strong craving for pizza.  I know that pizza generally isn't the healthiest choice, and while pita pizza's are one of my favourite healthy pizza's,  I wanted something that closer resembled an actual crust.  In came cauliflower crust pizza, which has been intriguing me for awhile! 


I made cauliflower mashed potatoes a few weeks ago and I was pleasantly surprised at how well I enjoyed them!  Sure they didn't taste exactly like mashed potatoes, but it was a pretty close alternative.   Once I made the mashed cauliflower, I could actually visualize how it could be turned into a crust, thus this recipe for a cauliflower pizza crust was born!


I couldn't believe how much like regular crust it actually tasted!  I thought it would be like the mashed cauliflower, similar to mashed potatoes, but not an exact match.  This was pretty darn close to actual crust - in fact, had I of not made it myself, I would have had a hard time believing what it was made out of!  My pizza obsessed husband gave this pizza a two thumbs up - his only compliant?  That I didn't make him a pizza all to himself! 

Ingredients
- 1 medium head of cauliflower
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup mozzarella
- 1 tbsp flour, or flour substitute (I used almond flour, but anything will work - this ingredient isn't necessary, I just found that it helps bind the "dough"so it's not crumbly. 
- 1/4 tsp each basil, oregano, and pepper
- sea salt to taste

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

Wash cauliflower and chop into small pieces - place cauliflower on a baking sheet with about a cup of water and cook for 15-20 minutes (turning once in the middle so they don't brown) until the cauliflower is tender.  You could also just steam them too, I just like the flavour that roasting brings out in veggies. 

Once cauliflower has finished cooking, turn your oven up to 450 degrees to pre-heat for the crust. 
Place caulliflower in a food processor, or blender and pulse until cauliflower is smooth (it will look kind of like mashed potatoes).  If you are using a blender you can add 1/2 cup of water or so to help it blend (you will be straining this in the next step anyway). 

Place the cauliflower in a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, nut milk bag, or even a clean dishtowel and wring out as much of the water as you possibly can until you are left with a ball of cauliflower pulp. As you can see, I got about 2 cups of water out of my cauliflower! 


Combine cauliflower pulp with egg, parmesan, mozza, and spices.  Mix well and form dough into a ball. 

Lightly oil a piece of parchment paper and work the "dough" into a crust shape.  Make sure that your crust is an even thickness throughout. 

Bake crust in preheated 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes, until it starts to lightly brown. 


Add pizza sauce, desired toppings, and mozza and bake for 10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Homemade Cultured Butter and Buttercream + Giveaway & Coupon


So I've been making my own butter for awhile now, but once in awhile, I splurge and buy cultured butter.  Cultured butter has a stronger flavour than regular butter due to being cultured with active bacteria (similar to yogurt) and has a distinctive, sharper taste than regular butter (it can be used just like regular butter in cooking and baking though).  Cultured butter has a longer shelf life than traditional butter.  This type of butter really popular in Europe (in fact the kind I purchase here in Canada is called "European Butter") but luckily with a little Flora Danica (bacteria) and a few inexpensive supplies, you can also make it in your own kitchen! 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Simple Beef Stew

Here is my January Column as it appeared in the January 2nd Edition of The Hinton Voice.


[As I write this, the snow is falling and I’m sitting here in my fuzzy pyjamas with a steaming cup of tea.  I absolutely love how beautiful snow can be – as long as the scenario in the sentence before this applies.

My husband’s job involves long wintery days working outside in well below freezing temperatures – temperatures that I hardly even feel comfortable shoveling the sidewalk in.  As a result, when he comes home at the end of a long, hard workday, the first thing he wants is a bowl of something warm.  In fact, most days when I ask him what he’d like for dinner that night, he replies with a request of just that - “something warm”.

Beef stew encompasses all that is warm and cozy, and is the perfect meal to accompany a cold wintery day.  It holds up as a fancy Sunday night dinner, and also fairs well as an easy weekday meal.  My favorite thing about stew is it’s great ability to diversify.  It can be cooked on the stove, in the oven, or even the slow cooker.

The meat is the star of the dish, so as long as you have a decent cut (tenderloin is our favourite), the rest of the ingredients are variables.   Any root vegetable would go well in a stew - sweet potatoes, turnips and parsnips frequently make an appearance in my pot as well.  The broth can be any combination of beef drippings, tomato juice, wine, or even beer (the latter being my husband’s favorite). 

Whether you’re spending a snowy day outside, or bundled up at home, I hope you  enjoy “something warm” at the end of your day.]

Recipe Serves 4

Ingredients
- 1 lb beef of choice
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 tsp each oregano, rosemary, and granulated garlic
- salt &pepper to taste
- 1-2 tsp olive oil
- 3 large potatoes
- 2-3 medium carrots
- 1 medium onion
- 1 L beef broth
- 1 bay leaf

Directions

Chop beef into bite sized pieces and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour and spices. Toss beef with flour mixture, being sure to discard any excess flour.

Pre-heat a large frying pan over medium heat, and then add olive oil.  Cook meat for 5 minutes, or until browned on each side (the meat doesn’t need to be fully cooked here, the key is just to lightly brown the outside).

Add chopped carrots, potatoes, and onions, cooking until onions are slightly translucent. 

Add beef broth and bay leaf and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer stew for about an hour, until the meat is cooked through and the base of the stew has thickened.

- Nutritional Info (per serving) -

Calories - 361   Fat - 9    Carbs – 32     Protein - 39   Fibre – 3


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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Snackbox Review/Giveaway + Coupon Code


Needless to say, I've had a slight obsession with subscription boxes lately.  When the folks over at Snackbox offered to send me their December box for review, I jumped at the chance.  Snackbox provides a variety of healthy products in a box that is entirely devoted to snacking.  I absolutely love trying new products (especially healthy ones) but I hate investing in an entire package of something I may not like.  In swoops subscription boxes like Snackbox that give you a ton of variety for a minimal cost.  The best part?  It's mailed right to your door.

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